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The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trailby Oscar Martinez
Synopses & Reviews
One day a couple of years ago, 300 migrants were kidnapped between the remote, dusty border towns of Altar, Mexico, and Sasabe, Arizona. Over half of them were never heard from again. Óscar Martínez, a young writer from El Salvador, was in Altar at the time of the abduction, and his story of the migrant disappearances is only one of the harrowing stories he tells after spending two years traveling up and down the migrant trail from Central America to the US border. More than a quarter of a million Central Americans alone make this increasingly dangerous journey each year, and last year 18,000 of them were kidnapped.
Martínez writes in beautiful, lyrical prose about clinging to the tops of freight trains; finding respite, work and hardship in shelters and brothels; and riding shotgun with the border patrol. Here is the first book to illuminate this harsh mass migration in the age of the narcotraficantes.
"This searing account of the hardships suffered by Central American migrants headed through Mexico to the United States comes from true shoe-leather reporting. In 2007 and 2008, Salvadoran journalist Martinez criss-crossed the most dangerous parts of Mexico to capture stories of Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans traversing what's increasingly become a criminal narco-state. Robbery, kidnapping, rape, and assault are 'the inevitable tolls of the road' imposed by cartels that have branched out into human trafficking and extortion. Martinez observes that today, human trafficking and prostitution isn't '...a scar-faced man tending a cage of women. It's a complex system of everyday lies and coercions that happen just behind our backs.' A journey marred by armed assaults and fatal accidents on 'The Beast' (a freight train running north through the state of Oaxaca) is a trip 'soaked with blood.' This straightforward translation, first published in Spanish in 2010, doesn't flinch at migrants' plight, and as the drug wars further rend Mexico asunder, it's hard to imagine the situation changing. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Óscar Martínez writes for ElFaro.net, the first online newspaper in Latin America. The original edition of his book Los migrantes que no importan was published in 2010 by Icaria and El Faro and a second edition by Mexico’s sur+ Ediciones in 2012. Martínez is currently writing chronicles and articles for El Faro’s project, Sala Negra, investigating gang violence in Latin America. In 2008, Martínez won the Fernando Benítez National Journalism Prize in Mexico, and in 2009, he was awarded the Human Rights Prize at the José Simeón Cañas Central American University in El Salvador.
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